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K. Lindsay Rakers
K. Lindsay Rakers
Attorney • (314) 588-8500

Only 20% of Medical Mistakes are Reported Per U.S. Dept of Health


Most doctors and nurses (and other medical professionals) are trustworthy, honest, and good at their jobs. I personally love and completely trust all of my doctors and the doctors and medical professionals who treat my children. But some doctors, nurses and medical professionals take advantage and abuse the medical profession and their medical licenses. When doctors and nurses are licensed, they take an oath. And just like we teach our children, you must take responsibility for your actions. Say sorry when you are wrong. Accept the consequences when you mess up.

Doctors and nurses are human – they make mistakes – we all do. But sometimes the mistakes and medical errors made by doctors and nurses can cause people great harm. It is especially important for doctors and nurses to own up to their mistakes when someone is injured or killed. Oftentimes, as recently reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that doesn't happen.

Let's face it – doctors protect doctors and nurses protect nurses. Sometimes they even go so far as to cover-up for each other. They justify the cover up by telling themselves that their intentions were good, they didn't mean to hurt anyone, and therefore, no one needs to know. I've also heard doctors and other medical professionals use the excuse that what happened to the unknowing patient was simply a known complication. A known complication doesn't mean it should happen! Such an argument is an absolute slippery slope. What is to stop medical professionals from claiming that every type of injury alleged in a medical malpractice case came from a known complication? Is it a known complication for a surgeon to accidentally cut an organ – an artery – during surgery? If a surgeon performs surgery on a healthy right knee instead of a damaged left knee, just because he didn't intentionally do it, it is still a mistake – the patient is still hurt – someone is responsible. Who pays for the clients harms and losses incurred as a result of these mistakes?

As the election year approaches, we will hear a lot about Missouri medical malpractice lawsuits and Missouri wrongful death lawsuits and how we are driving good doctors out of town. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have to be held to the same standards as everyone else – it is a simple concept that we all learned in pre-school – take responsibility. Do not hide behind medical malpractice tort reform caps that limit what an injured person can recover – no matter what her harm is. Do not indicate in the operative report that everything when smoothly and as expected when really, the client almost bled out on the table. Do not "lose" damaging medical records. We all make mistakes – the patient shouldn't have to pay.

Lindsay Rakers, Missouri and Illinois Injury Attorney


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  1. jc says:
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    Yes, lets all admit we make mistakes so that the patient can run off to ambulance chasers like Lindsay Rakers so we can go thru years of litigation hell so that Rakers can make a fast buck. But when Lindsay mistakenly sues a doc for malpractice wasting his time, Lindsay should have immunity from a countersuit from the doctor because she had “good intentions” and frivolous malpractice suits are just a “legal complication.”

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr. Cox: You are fond of quoting percentages. Do you quarrel with the percentage quoted in Ms. Raker’s blog? Have you ever researched the number of medical mistakes that go unreported? Wouldn’t that be an important statistic in your frequent arguments about how many cases are unsuccessful? How often do doctors “successfully” get away with medical mistakes and suffer no consequence? Are cases unsuccessful because of concealment and fabrication by the medical/hospital community? Take a look at the recent Amendment 7 ruling in Florida. Do you support that type of full disclosure? Of course, you don’t! There is increasing evidence that admitting mistakes and immediately offering to pay for them decreases litigation frequency and reduces damages. But, you would rather conceal it or lie about it?! Concealing and lying results in litigation. And how does anyone make a “fast buck” going through years of “litigation hell”? Your arguments are getting more and more bizzare.

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    Dr. Cox, thank you for your comment. While I appreciate your comments, I strongly disagree with them. I don’t know you at all – never spoken with you, never met you – so I am surprised by the personal attacks. Clearly, you know nothing about my practice. If I made “quick bucks”, I’d be retired on a beach by now. I strive to protect my clients from going through the very litigation “hell” that you refer to. An injured person should not have to even go through the litigation process when liability is clear. Instead, there should be an apology, a plan to stop future mistakes, and compensation for the harms and losses. The point of my blog is to make the public aware that many, many medical mistakes are being made and are not being reported. That must stop. Lawyers must take responsibility for their mistakes – so must doctors and nurses. Surely you don’t disagree with the notion of taking responsibility and making the public aware of this problem. Thank you.

  4. jc says:
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    I have serious questions how anyone give an exact percentage of the number of times medical mistakes are made and are not reported to the patient. Face it, most medical mistakes have no effect on patient outcome, some mistakes affect patient outcome and neither the doc or the patient realizes the mistake.So saying 20% of mistakes are not reported is specious. Besides, with the current malpractice enviornment, after all the work docs put into their career no one wants to commit career suicide. We need a better system which means getting rid of the legal system and goint to medical courts!

  5. jc says:
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    Bello – -you make a fast buck by filing a frivolous lawsuit and then settling for $10,000 – $20,000 after a couple of months. You extort money from the insurance companies and docs that way because the litigation system is too expensive to go thru. That is why, at trial plaintiff lawyers lose 80% of the time because they didn’t have a case to begin with and the docs and insurance companies pay them off to get out of future litgation expenses.

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    JC, at it again. You spout all the rhetoric and make personal attacks, but you never provide any facts. If you really are a doctor, I hope you use more reason and facts treating patients!

    For your information, the “specious” claim that only 20% of medical errors are reported came from inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who found that more than 80 percent of hospital errors go unreported by hospital employees. Read http://abcnews.go.com/story?id=15308019&sid=26#.Txm0QNTF9I4 (this was also in the body of the article whose author you attack for no reason).

  7. Mark Bello says:
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    Cox: “Frivolous” lawsuits don’t result in $10,000-$20,000 settlements in a few months. They get dismissed. You know that; I know that. Lying about percentages and medical mistake frequency is not the way to pursue your self-admitted agenda which is to keep your malpractice rates low and be able to make medical mistakes without ‘penalty’.

  8. jc says:
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    Bill Eadie: I read the ABC article, and the author was the Inspector General of HHS. A Democratic operative who states that 80% of mistakes at hospitals are “unreported”. It further states that 61% of the “mistakes” were not even recognized by the staff as mistakes. So you put bandage on someone with paper tape and they get a mild skin rash because of an allergy to the paper tape and that is a horrible mistake? This report does not break out those mistakes and therefore is useless propaganda produced for gullible plaintiff attorneys.

  9. jc says:
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    Bello: Frivolous lawsuits often go all the way to court where they are rejected by the jury and then appealed by the plaintiff attorney who is trying to recoup his litigation losses. Scott E. Diamond, a Pennsylvania plaintiff attorney stated that in 2009 154 malpractice suits were filed in Pennsylvania resulting in only 23 plaintiff verdicts for a .143 batting average for the plaintiff attorneys. There are not many .143 ballplayers in the major leagues -those guys get demoted to the minors. You are right in that my goal is to get rid of the current medical malpractice system and replace it with medical courts because it will reduce my malpractice premiums, promote patient safty, expediate claims and provide uniform compensation where indicated.
    You promote the current system so you can hog outlandish fees on the backs of suffering patients and doctors.

  10. Mike Bryant says:
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    Dr Cox, you are making up comments in the middle of the day now. So no “legal consulting ” to do? The two most interesting personal attacks on Lindsey and Mark, are so far off, it is almost comical , even for your usual posts.
    – Years of litigation hell = quick buck????
    – Backs of suffering patients and doctors? Easy way to fix that. Doctors should not lie or hide like you did in the cases where you caused the suffering.

  11. jc says:
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    Mikey – -so who goes thru years of litigation hell?The patient and the doctor. Who earns the fee? The defense and plaintiff attorneys. Who has to live with the case day in and out, – -the patient and the doctor. Who works on part of the case one day, is really not involved for a week/month as he does other cases and then comes back to collect a multimillion dollar fee – -the plaintiff attorney.We need to go to medical courts for fast, quick settlements without the years of litigation and the “blame and shame” game and get rid of the defense and plaintiff attorneys and judges.

  12. Mike Bryant says:
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    Dr Cox, as usual your posts are attacks and don’t address the issue. The facts are clear that when doctors take care of people and don’t hide or lie to them, the number of cases go down. When that doesn’t happen people need representation.

    A specialty court made up of doctors is going to be like those peer groups you are a part of. The secret ones where you “stand up for people”. I would guess if you had your way, the 20% that is reported now could be reduced to a much smaller amount.

  13. jc says:
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    Mikey: You and I have a fundamental disagreement. You think that the medical legal system which is run by lawyers and administered by a lawyer in a black robe which is dependant on court fees, defense attorney fees, medical “expert” fees and which takes years and years to reach a result is somehow “nonbiased”. I believe medical courts would administer swift rewards and justice because we could render quick verdicts because we would quickly reject bogus medical “expert” opinion. In all honest, there might be bias toward medical professionals, but there is also bias in the legal system and excessive delays and costs too. I think medical courts could be a system which gets rid of the “blame and shame” system as it currently exists and move into a system which recognizes that “to err is human” so that we would be more willing to come forward and correct mistakes.

  14. jc says:
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    Mikey: Hey, I did not lie to those two people who died. Actually, they did not ask and it was only on self examination and critic that I found out. But I also don’t lie to people like you plaintiff lawyers do, by claiming that all you are interested in is their right to a fair trial. Really what you are interested in is your right to large legal fees. We all know that medical courts would be fairer and quicker for the patient and doctor and the reason we don’t have them right now is because of opposition by the plaintiff’s bar.

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    “Mikey: You and I have a fundamental disagreement. You think that the …”

    No, JC, the founding fathers thought that. Read the 7th Amendment. It is called the civil justice system, and the fact that you think the one group that should be exempt–doctors–is the one group you are a part of shows how important it is.

    While justice may at times be difficult or costly, the alternative is far more so.

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    “Really what you are interested in is your right to large legal fees.”

    You work for free, JC? Attorneys take on a lot of financial risk every time they file suit, and most plaintiff’s attorneys make far less than their defense/corporate counterparts. There is a risk reward factor like every endeavor. I assume you’re not against companies making profits, or CEOs, or doctors? Just lawyers, huh?

  17. jc says:
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    Bill: Congress and legislatures have the right to change things for the betterment of society. A stock broker breaks into your brokerage account and steals your money, well you cannot take Merrill Lynch into court and bankrupt them, you go thru arbitration. Lights go out in a storm and you lose a freezer full of meat, cann’t sue the electric company gotta complain to PUC. Society can also decide to set up medical courts for dispute resolution. That is the way we should go. The current medical legal situation certianly benefits the lawyers, but I can’t see how it helps patients and doctors by putting them thru years of legal hell. As for your comment about lawyers and legal fees – -I would not comment about this except that I gets kind of sickening repeatedly hearing from pious lawyers talking about patient “rights” when what they are really trying to do is protect their fees. I get the feeling that lawyers think the sucker patient is just there to feed their greed for 50% contingency fees.

  18. jc says:
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    Bill, one of the interesting aspects of your 7th Admendment speech and the “right to hold people accountable” is that plaintiff attorneys and their expert witnesses are exempt. Yep, a plaintiff attorney can drag me thru years of malpractice litigation on a frivolous claim. When I finally get my day in court and win (docs win 80% of the time), what do I get? Yup, I closed my office for 2 weeks and lost a ton of patients and money, had my malpractice rates increased, damaged my reputation and there I am with a unanimous jury verdict stating that I was right! Can’t sue the plaintiff attorney, or his lying expert, according to Brett Emison, that is just too bad, doc, you are a second class citizen!
    If you don’t like it move to England!

  19. Rob, Jim, Ned & Hank says:
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    Your trolling is tiring. As we have all heard, doing (or typing) the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Why don’t you take a few plays off, Champ? Maybe get outside for some fresh air.

    The fact that these lawyers continue to engage you is almost as bad as you constantly standing in their yard shaking your fist. But it is, after all, their yard, I guess.


  20. Carl says:
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    After reading articles like this I am thankful I am fine after medical procedures. I don’t want to be one of these unlucky people and get misdiagnosed. I was recommended http://www.xmri.com for a second opinon recently and I will definatly use this service again with how easy and fast it was to use. I’d highly suggest getting a second opinion done, after all it is OUR health and must make the best of it.